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Rep. Zeldin’s Bill to Protect Plum Island Passes House Homeland Security Committee Unanimously

April 28, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – On Thursday, April 28, 2016, the House Homeland Security Committee unanimously passed Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (R, NY-1) bill to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder (H.R. 1887), releasing the bill from committee and allowing it to come to a vote on the House floor this year.

Allowing for continued research, public access and permanent preservation of the island, H.R. 1887 will reverse a 2008 law that mandated the public sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder. The bill as amended will commission the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, which currently owns the island, to formulate a comprehensive plan for the future of the island. This plan will include possible alternative uses for the island including a transfer of ownership to another federal agency, the state or local government, non-profit, or combination thereof for the purpose of education, research, and conservation.

Congressman Lee Zeldin introduced the bill in Congress just over one year ago, on April 17, 2015, and since then has been working closely with the House Homeland Security Committee and House leadership to pass this bill through the full chamber this year.

Congressman Zeldin said, “Plum Island is a natural treasure that has been a part of Long Island history since the 1700s. With approximately 90% of the land on Plum Island undeveloped, the island is home to a diverse wildlife and ecosystem, and serves as a critical habitat for migratory birds, marine mammals, and rare plants. It’s our responsibility to protect this precious land for future generations, which is why I am proud to have secured the passage of this bill out of committee and to the House floor for a vote. I would like to thank House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and his entire staff for all of their great efforts to help make this critical development a reality. I would also like to thank my co-sponsors in Congress, as well as our local elected officials, concerned residents and community organizations who all did their part to create this important momentum. Over the coming weeks, I will continue working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, and supportive groups in the tristate area, like the Preserve Plum Island coalition, to get this critical bill passed on the House floor this year."

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R, TX-10) said, “It is important that we examine all the options for Plum Island. Congress needs to get the right information before moving ahead and determining the best possible use for the Island. I applaud Rep. Lee Zeldin’s vision and forethought on this issue, and I commend him for leading the effort to find responsible solutions.”

"That H.R. 1887 has passed the House Homeland Security Committee, and will come before the full House for a vote this year, comes as most welcome news. This critically important legislation stops the clock on the marketing and sale of Plum Island and lays out a pathway for preservation of the Island", said John Turner, spokesperson for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition (PPIC). "The Congress of 2008 viewed Plum Island as nothing more than a chunk of real estate. The Congress of 2016, however, recognizes Plum Island for what it is - a nationally-significant treasure that should be preserved, protected, and cherished. We believe passage of the legislation from the Homeland Security Committee represents a critical turning point in the battle to save the Island and PPIC is delighted to work with Congressman Zeldin in advancing the most worthwhile goal of permanent preservation of Plum Island. Kudos to him and his House colleagues for taking this significant step," he added.

“Thousands of citizens in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have stood up for saving Plum Island, each one asking that the federal government protect the island’s endangered birds and historic buildings, and the character of Long Island’s East End,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Thanks to Congressman Zeldin’s leadership, the efforts of our entire regional congressional delegation, and the support of the Homeland Security committee, these goals are within sight. The ‘Don’t Sell Plum Island Act’ is a critical step in our shared fight to save Plum Island.”

“Congressman Zeldin's leadership on preserving Plum Island as undeveloped has immense environmental value,” said Ashley Hunt-Martorano, Director of Marketing & Events at Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “Open space has become rare on Long Island and protecting Plum Island against development ensures that future generations can have access to nature and wildlife. I especially commend Congressman Zeldin for reaching across the aisle to secure bipartisan support on this legislation. I look forward to seeing more bipartisan efforts in our Congress.”